Callaway grinds out road win
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
It was all about survival.
The Callaway Cavaliers had their hands full with home-standing Bremen last week in a showdown between Region 5-AA rivals.
Bremen went toe-to-toe with Callaway and kept it close, and it had the ball at the end of the game with an opportunity to win it with a touchdown and an extra point.
When the dust cleared, though, it was the Cavaliers walking away with the 20-14 victory to improve to 5-1 overall, and 2-0 in the region.
It was, Callaway head coach Pete Wiggins said, “the exact game we expected.”
“You go on the road against a really good football team, a well-coached team, and it was very physical throughout four quarters,” Wiggins added. “It’s what we prepared the kids for. I’m really proud of the way the guys were able to finish, and remain level throughout the game.”
Callaway made some big plays on offense to find the end zone three times, and the defense came through with a strong effort, limiting Bremen to one offensive touchdown.
Bremen returned a fumble for a touchdown in the second half.
The Cavaliers were missing some key players because of injuries, including running back Cartavious “Tank” Bigsby and linebacker R.J. Williams, but they found a way to capture an important road win as they try to chase down a region championship.
“Right now, we’ve got some significant injuries, but we have guys step up,” Wiggins said. “To win ballgames throughout a season, you have to have guys step up in big situations. (Friday night) was a great example of that. To go on the road against a great football team in Bremen in that environment I think is a testimony to the character of our football team.”
One of the players who was instrumental to Callaway’s success was senior wide receiver Jymere Jones, who had a memorable night.
Jones had scoring receptions of 68 yards and 80 yards from Demetrius Coleman, and he also threw a 90-yard touchdown pass to Jacob Freeman.
The game was tied 14-14 when Jones got behind the defense for a 68-yard touchdown catch with 8:55 to play.
Coleman rolled out and threw the ball deep to Jones, who reached up and snatched the ball away from the defensive back, and he raced the final 30 yards for the touchdown.
Callaway opened the scoring with 3:49 left in the first half, with Coleman and Jones hooking up for an 80-yard touchdown.
Jones caught the ball at midfield, and he shrugged off a would-be tackler and he sprinted into the end zone for the touchdown.
Coleman completed the two-point conversion pass to Freeman to give Callaway an 8-0 lead, and that was the score at the half.
In the third quarter, offensive coordinator Matt Napier dialed up a trick play that worked perfectly.
Coleman threw a backward pass to Jones, who hit Freeman in stride near midfield for a 90-yard touchdown.
Jones also played much of the game as a member of the secondary.
“Jymere has gotten better every week,” Wiggins said. “He’s working really hard in the weight room. He’s working hard at practice. He’s doing a great job as one of the leaders of our football team. He breaks down in the huddle, one, two, three Callaway, four, five six, family at the close of practice. From a coaching standpoint, he’s what you look for in senior leadership. I’m excited about his progress.”
Antinez Blount continued to make big plays for Callaway with two catches for 66 yards.
Freeman had two receptions for 92 yards, and he also carried the ball 10 times for 40 yards.
After Callaway’s first touchdown, Freeman caught a two-point conversion pass from Freeman.
Charlie Dixon, who continues to fill in for Bigsby, ran for 32 yards on 12 attempts.
Coleman, who is having a terrific junior season, completed 12-of-17 passes for 242 yards with two touchdowns, and he also had two carries for 13 yards.
Another player who Wiggins felt played a key role in the victory was junior Jalin Shephard, who is a defensive back and punter.
In a game where field position was so important, Shephard’s ability to pin Bremen deep in its own territory was critical.
“I thought Jalin Shephard did a great job punting the ball,” Wiggins said. “Our guys on the punt team were able to down the ball inside the five several times. So we were able to flip the field throughout the game. I think that helped with momentum. In that type of game where it’s physical, and both defenses are playing well, the field position battle was key to winning the ballgame.”
Callaway will look to improve to 3-0 in the region when it hosts unbeaten Lamar County on Thursday.